I spent most of the
weekend getting back in touch with my geek roots. It felt good. I
played a bunch of FF6 Advance for the majority of Sunday. It's nice
to have these nostalgic trips back to a game that I can always count
on to be fun and good. That's the opposite of many modern RPGs, like
Rogue Galaxy in particular, that look really good, but run out of
gas about half way through the game. I honestly don't know if I'll
ever finish that game.
RG did give me about 35
hours of fun. However, it's one of those games that I just find
myself not interested in playing anymore. I did enjoy it. I do want
to know how the (bad) plot ends. I want to see some more special
abilities unlocked on the Revelation Board (how you unlock new
abilities). I just don't want to play anymore. I'm not bitter or
frustrated...I'm just done.
I also was finally able
to play some Civ 4 Warlords. I never played the expansion (money
seemed to find other worthy causes in my life) until Saturday.
Luckily, I not only played Warlords, but I did it the right way; in
a spur-of-the-moment LAN party. Nothing like just getting a Civ4
game going with no warning and no expectations to round out a
Saturday night. Sadly, I wasn't able to see the game through to it's
end, but it was a blast being able to mess with some different
civilizations while seeing some of the new content.
It's also good to see
that the memory upgrade I did a week ago for my laptop could get me
from crawling through Civ4 to being in a position to do a mini-LAN
party on a huge world. I knew the upgrade could keep me running
smoothly in single player, but to have it work in multiplayer is
what really matters.
Anyway, I rounded things
out on Sunday night with a bit of the good old D&D action. I held
what's becoming my regular Sunday night game, and I think we all had
a good time...despite my brain being low on fuel after a late night
of Civ4 the night before.
I don't really have much
else to say today. It's been a fast last few days, but with nothing
really important. However, that's how a good geek inspired weekend
should be; fast, busy, filled with many gaming options, and nothing
important to say when it's all said and done. So, I'll part ways
about here, but with one final thought;
I saw Zodiak on
Saturday, and it's one hell of an amazing movie. Zodiak is the type
of movie that should be shown at another time of year...not during
the crap-fest that is January through March.
No post yesterday since
I am seeing the real joys recently of being one of the only two
people to work in a lab that had about 8 people only 9 months ago.
Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear kills you then he
skull f#@$s your sorry ass.
Anyway, a new take
is coming along on
why Kutaragi was demoted (or as Sony says, "given a new role")
from being such an important person in Sony's gaming division.
Namely, he not only was lying to the public, but worse yet, her was
not giving information to other Sony executives. In particular,
Howard Stringer (a CEO within Sony) was not getting any information
about the PS3 from Kutaragi.
What was Stringer
honestly expecting. Kutaragi is well known outside of Sony as being
one of the least cooperative people in the gaming world. He would
tell one thing, deliver another, and then lie about the first
thought ever being mentioned. It's like catching a little kid in a
bad lie. He could not even properly cover his ass when he f#@$ed up
so spectacularly. That, in fact, should be Business 101 ("How to
Cover One's Ass").
Anyway, this won't
really solve anything for the people outside of Sony. They may be
taking a stand against internal information breakdowns, but they
won't give a rat's ass about it happening outside of the company. In
fact, Sony will continue, for a long time, to not tell the whole
story and to try to cover the truth and lies with weird imagined
concepts as long as they have the power to continue to make money.
Anyway, I'm in a
bit of a bad mood since I'm overworked, overly tired, and I missed
out on a bright and sunny day yesterday (a rarity for Seattle in the
Winter) and am now being treated to cold and rain again.
However, there can
always be a brighter side of things. For example, Harmonix could be
back into the swing of things while working on what could be their
"most ambitious" project to date. It's pretty much unknown what
this project will be like, what system it will be on, or anything
else. However, given Harmonix's track record of making rhythm games
that appeal to a mass audience, it's pretty assured that it will be
It can also be
assured that the game will definitely give some competition to
Activision, Neversoft, and Red Octane. Considering how Activision is
now having Neversoft develop future Guitar Hero games, I'm betting
the quality will suffer. So, when the future Harmonix project comes
around, I'm willing to bet that it will smoke anything that the once
proud (and now DOA) Neversoft could crank out.
Last night I learned
something rather interesting. I was invited to do a Microsoft game
test. Basically, for those who don't know these events, you're
invited in (if you're gaming habits match what they need) to
participate in a game test. You sit around playing a game for an
hour or so, while recording some observations. Then you sit in a
room with the other testers and discuss some thoughts on the game in
a panel discussion type of setup.
Overall, the whole
game testing thing is pretty fun to be a part of, and it lets you
sometimes get some insight, prior to launch, of if you'd even
consider a game. If it wasn't for one of these, I would have never
known about how much fun Crimson Skies was and I would have ignored
What I learned
last night is that they sometimes overbook these things. Which means
that some sorry people go home early. What I didn't know, until I
was told I was one who would have to leave, is that I still get my
gratuity and I would be on a higher priority to come back in (to
earn another gratuity). Not a bad deal.
As for the
gratuity side of things; you are allowed to pick one piece of
software for the PC, XBox, or XBox 360 that's on a list of gratuity
items. This can range from small things (like games no longer
considered worthy of retail) to components of Microsoft Office and
full installs of Windows XP Professional.
In a nutshell, I
came in, played some FFVI Advance on my DS. Then I went into a room
to watch some Simpsons (while everyone finished they paperwork,
etc). After about 15 minutes of watching TV (like I probably
would've been doing at home anyway), I was told I (along with a few
other people) would not be participating and got Crackdown. It took
about the same total time as if I drove to Fry's to buy the game,
but without me actually paying a dime. Not a bad way to get a game.
wouldn't have considered buying Crackdown. It just sounds like too
short of a game for me. However, that all changes when the game is
given for free. I now have a free copy of Crackdown, I'm on high
priority to earn another gratuity (maybe Gears of War, if I'm so
inclined), and I basically wasted no more time than I would have if
I bought the game from the closest reliable retailer (Fry's). That's
what I call a win-win situation.
The only real sad
part of this whole "rejection" was that I think I was going to test
a particular game that a friend of mine is working on. It would have
been pretty cool to have seen the work he's been doing ahead of
time...and to form some thoughts on the game's worth in my gaming
library. Also, it's a game that I personally think is a travesty to
the franchise it's tied into, so I could have found (my hope) that
the game sucks balls and I would feel affirmed in my thoughts that
some (read: all) licenses need to be handled correctly and not just
in whatever way sounds like an easy way to make money. Afterall, not
every game can be the next Counter Strike (not in how CS uses a
license incorrectly, but in how this certain game tries to fit a
square peg into a CS shaped slot).
On the bright
side, the time I had freed up because of this was well used in
teaching the Mongolians, ala Civ 4, to not demand things that they
are not willing to regret. I love that game...nothing like Genghis
Kahn demanding the alphabet, being rejected, declaring war, and my
French troops teaching him the magical nature of gunpowder...hehehe.
A lot of interesting
stuff is being revealed at the GDC. There's the new PS3 avatar
system (which sounds like a blending of Microsoft's Achievements and
Nintendo's Mii concept...but let's just face it, that Sony likes to
imitate), Microsoft unleashing many new game news type of things via
Molyneaux and his Fable 2 ideas, there's the gag order on Nintendo
from speaking about anything exciting (due to a stock freeze
situation for Nintendo) which only resulted in the idea of a new Mii
channel that's basically an over glorified popularity contest/beauty
pageant for Miis, and plenty of other tidbits.
However, I think
the two biggest, or at least the most entertaining bits, came in
regards to Nintendo...despite their gag order.
note, I loved
the talk by Miyamoto. It's not every day we have a situation
that gag's Nintendo's hype machine in a way that we are "forced" to
listen to the actual processes of the master's mind. This was a
unique talk in that we got to not only better understand Miyamoto,
but we could also understand that he too has had a fair share of
failures along the way.
He had the Mii
concept of a visual customizable avatar in the works since the SNES
days, but he simply was reaching too high and could not find a way
to actually make it a part of something bigger. In fact, despite him
working on it for more than a decade, it wasn't until another group
started their work on the Mii system that he was able to do anything
constructive. I think it's great to see this more humbled and real
side of the man whom so many gamers look at as the definition of
Miyamoto's way of testing games out for casual gamers was great. The
"Wife-o-meter" is a great idea. I think that Miyamoto did a
brilliant job in explaining the idea way to find how to bring in a
casual gamer; find a person in your own life who doesn't play many
games and then try to convert them through nothing more than the
product itself. This is a great example of why Nintendo is bringing
in so many casual gamers and convincing them to buy a Wii while the
competition is trying the same old moves (like the 360 having the
same damned casual games one could find on any Internet gaming
site). It all comes down to being different, but still really
testing ideas on a target close enough to assess without coercion.
On a related
Nitendo note, Eiji Aonuma, had some interesting
insights into Zelda in a talk he gave. The one thing I found
really interesting about this is that Wind Waker nearly was the
death of Zelda. It's a great joke to say that, but to accept that it
was also reality is another thing. Between the slump of the game
industry in Japan and the way that North American audiences
(particularly teens) were turned off by the visuals, the end may
have been in sight.
interesting that they were considering making first person fight
scenes in Twilight Princess. Not only that, but the primary reason
that the Wii version was mirrored (to give Link a right handed
attack) was because it felt weird in a first person mode. Well, it's
nice to see a deeper reason behind the mirrored world, considering
swinging the wrong hand on Twilight Princess doesn't seem so bad
with a third person battle perspective. However, it's even nicer to
see that while first person was considered, Nintendo wised up and
dropped what would have been the end of the Zelda franchise (sorry,
but first person in Zelda is like making a pencil and paper RPG into
a first person shooter...and yes, I'm waiting to see how much I hate
Shadowrun upon it's release).
However, the other
Nintendo related thing that I found really entertaining were the
by Chris Hecker when he apologized for
talking "shit" about Nintendo. First off, to quote Sawyer on
this weeks Lost; "Who the hell are you?" I think that was the
thoughts of many Wii lovers around the world. Hecker is someone that
has had a big impact on the gaming industry in the same way that a
manager has a big impact on professional wrestling (not counting
Paul Barer...forgive that bad spelling).
is the same dumbass who won an award (who knows why?) at the 2006
GDC and gave the famous ranting speech about how
privileged we are to live in a gaming world. This is someone
with an ego about as large as it gets. For doing so damned little
for the gaming world, he seems to think he's way too important.
Let's face it, if Hecker was never in the gaming world, we would be
at the same point we are today. Another Hecker would have appeared
to fill the role. It's not like Miyamoto, Molyneaux, Warren Spector,
Will Wright, Sid Meyer, or Yu Suzuki. If they were not ever in the
gaming world, we would be in a different world than what we love and
favorite part of this is that Hecker seemed to think he "was trying
to be thought provoking and entertaining and fun"! How is saying
that the "Wii is a piece of shit", and demanding that Nintendo makes
"a console that doesn't suck ass" supposed to be anything more than
the mindless ramblings of a complete lunatic. How is saying the Wii
is nothing more than two Gamecubes duct taped together being thought
provoking. If this is entertaining, fun, or thought provoking, then
all of the fan boys on the Gamefaqs.com message boards must be f$#@ing
geniuses! No, Heck was simply being a fanboy of the worst type; one
who works in the industry, and thus has a voice. He even claimed
that his rant "went too far over the top on the entertaining and fun
side". No. Fanboys and obvious flame wars are never entertaining and
fun...this is just pathetic bullshit and it makes me feel sad for
Will Wright to have this liability on his Spore team.
However, the best
thing Hecker said was how the Wii can only make fun games but not
artistic ones. First of all, I'd take fun over art any day of the
isn't the point of a "game" to be fun? I think so. Secondly, I
believe that there is a difference between a game and a peice of
art. While they can overlap, a game cannot exist without the fun
factor (or, by the modern definition of video games, it would be a
failure). Most of all, I'd like to say that the single most artistic
game I've ever played (which was also one of the most fun and
enjoyable) was Okami.
Okami was not only beautiful, but it was made on the PS2...a system
with an inferior technology set when compared to the Wii. In a
nutshell, art and fun can coexist and art and Wii can coexist.
The only thing
that should not coexist in the gaming world is fanboys and industry
jobs. You put those two things together, and you have a mindless
egomaniac who has accomplished next to nothing substantial and
groundbreaking, but thinks his mindless rants at each GDC (at least
since 2006) are gospel. I honestly don't care what one mindless
lunatic calls the Wii (since I love it...just like I love all of the
systems, in one way or another...except for the 1080i/480p/480i
hating $600 piece of shit without a game known as the PS3...at least
for now) since the numbers and the converted casual gamers speak
volumes. In fact, I think any system that could get my own father, a
non-gamers since the Intellivision days (not counting Elf
Bowling...sigh), to buy it and to be part of my conversations with
him is one hell of an awesome "piece of shit".
The Wii may not
give Hecker the same next-gen ideas he had in mind...but then again,
I don't get that feeling from the 360 or the PS3. "Next-gen", as I
said before, is not a term that really has the same meaning it once
did. I think the only real "next-gen" vibes we'll feel anymore are
from new concepts (like the Wiimote controller concept), and not
just from pushing the speeds and abilities of CPUs and video chips.
That ended with the PS2/XBox/GCN generation. If you want to feel
like something is "next-gen" then it will come from only one of two
real things...the involving of new technology that is novel to the
game world...or the feeling of paying between $250 to possibly even
$1000 in the future for a new console. That's what I sadly call
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